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The New York State Library looms as a silent sanctuary of knowledge: a hundred-year-old labyrinth of towering bookcases, narrow aisles, and spiral staircases. But for Dr Stephen Swain and his eight-year-old daughter Holly it is a place of nightmare. Because, for just one night, this historic building is to become the venue for a horrifying contest, a contest in which Swain must compete, whether he likes it or not.
The rules of the challenge are simple: seven contestants will enter, but only one will leave. With his daughter in his arms, Stephen Swain is plunged into a terrifying fight for survival. The stakes are high, the odds are brutal. He can choose to run, to hide, or to fight - but if he wants to live, he needs to win. For, in this particular contest, unless you leave as victor, you do not leave at all.
ETs with a mordant sense of drama turn the New York Public Library into "the labyrinth" for an interstellar survival game show in this ungainly thriller from Australian Reilly (Ice Station). Seven players, each from a different world, compete for their lives, combating not only each other but also a monster called the Karanodon. The earthly representative is Dr. Steven Swain, chosen for his courage in successfully fighting off a gang of thugs who invade his operating room. Unfortunately, Swain happens to be holding Holly, his plucky little daughter, at the moment he's transported into the labyrinth, so she goes with him. The most devilish trick the "sponsors" provide is an unremovable digital bracelet, whose face shows how many opponents remain, and will commence a deadly 15-minute countdown should its wearer manage to escape the library's electrified confines. Derivative of Michael Crichton's techno-thrillers as well as Stephen King/Richard Bachman's The Running Man, the book offers constant, nail-biting action, but not a lot of reverence for one of New York City's greatest public institutions.